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Remains of burned Baptist church (Courtesy Compass Direct)
Rampaging Muslims have killed 10 Christians, injured 61 others, destroyed nine churches and displaced more than 500 people in northern Nigeria, according to eyewitnesses – all because Muslim high school students claimed a Christian student had drawn a cartoon of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the school’s mosque.
The rampage occurred Sept. 28 in the town of Tudun Wada Dankadai, in Nigeria’s northern state of Kano.
According to Compass Direct News, which specializes in reporting on Christian persecution worldwide, there are 1,500 students at the high school, called Government College-Tudun Wada Dankadai, of which only 14 are Christians, and only seven of those actually live on campus. The Christian students at the school insist no one ever saw the alleged cartoon, and furthermore that no one in the tiny minority group of Christians would have dared such a feat, especially during Ramadan.
“How can we take such a risk when we know that we are a minority and cannot stand [against] them?” Christian student Shehu Bawa told Compass. “This is a lie created to have a reason to attack us.”
Eighteen-year-old student Iliya Adamu told Compass he was getting ready to go to class when a group of Muslim students stormed into his dorm and began to beat him.
“I was surprised that they were beating me without telling what I did,” Adamu said. “I asked to know what was happening, and they claimed that one Christian student had gone to their mosque to draw a cartoon of Muhammad. In spite of my denying the act, they kept beating me.”
Seeing the Muslim mob beating a Christian classmate named Sule La’azaru, Adamu ran to the principal’s office for refuge, soon to be joined by the remaining Christian students there, according to the report.
Despite the attempts by the Muslim teachers to stop the rampage, Muslim students began throwing stones at the Christian students through the window of the principal’s office, wounding student Ayuba Wada in the head.
“I was inside the office of our principal, with the others, when suddenly the Muslim students began throwing stones at us,” Wada told Compass. “It was through this way that my head was broken. I was bleeding, and no help came as the situation became more riotous.”
Eventually, the rampaging Muslim students broke into the principal’s office, but the principal’s arrival saved Wada’s life, while the other Christians holed up there managed to escape the mob.
One of the Christian students, Shehu Bawa, told Compass his arrival on campus that morning was punctuated by shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) “all over the school.” In fact, he said, “The Muslim students were now attacking every Christian student on sight. Four of us ran into the office of the vice principal, but when it was finally broken into by the Muslim students, we ran out and escaped.”
What about the alleged cartoon of Muhammad, rumors of which instigated the attacks?
“We suspect that either one of the Muslim students in the school did this to create an excuse for us to be attacked, or that a Muslim fanatic from the town might have done this to spark off a fight among Muslims and Christians,” said Bawa. “How could we have done this when Muslim students are always around the mosque day and night because of the Ramadan?”
The rampage spreads far and wide
After attacking the few Christian students in their school, the rampaging Muslim students poured into the streets of Tudun Wada, joined now by other Muslims. For the next four hours, reports Compass, the growing mob burned down Christian churches, vandalized Christian property and murdered innocents.
Among the churches burned were: St. Mary’s Catholic Church; St. George’s Anglican Church; Evangelical Church of West Africa; Assemblies of God Church; First Baptist Church; a Pentecostal church called the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church; an African independent church, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church; and two other Pentecostal churches, The Chosen Bible Church and Deeper Life Bible Church.
Children of murdered Christian (Courtesy Compass Direct)
The 10 Christians murdered included: Augustine Odoh and his younger brother Cosmos Odoh, both members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Another Catholic, Joseph Eze, was also killed. When Compass filed its initial report, the corpses of the three Catholics were lying at the City Hospital in Kano city. Seven other Christians murdered were buried in a common grave Wednesday, but government workers did not allow relatives or church leaders to identify the corpses.
The dozens of injured are being treated at the Assumpta Clinic, Nomansland in Sabon Gari area of Kano city.
According to Musa Ahmadu Haruna, the priest of St. George’s Anglican Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, whose church was burned, no Christian student in the school could have drawn an image of Muhammad.
“None of these students is capable of drawing a cartoon on a mosque,” he told Compass Direct. “That is a frame-up to find a reason to attack us.”
Another pastor, Rabiu Danbawa of the Evangelical Church of West Africa, said that upon hearing of the waves of attacks on Christians, he moved toward the town’s center to see for himself what was transpiring.
“I stood as they set fire on our churches one by one,” he told Compas Direct. “There was nothing I could do,” he said, adding, “I did not know the fate of my wife and my children.” When he went to the local police station for help, Danbawa found the police turning away Christians who had run there to escape the attack. “We were told to leave, as our safety could not be guaranteed,” he said, in tears, according to Compass Direct. “Women and children all scampered to the bush, only to be attacked by the Muslims who had already hid themselves in the bush awaiting their Christian prey.”
It wasn’t until several days later that Danbawa found his wife and children safe.
Accoroding to reports from Compass, Danbawa and his family are now refugees in Dogon Kawo village, along with other Christian victims. None have food or shelter, he said.
Even Christian policemen were not immune, with about 30 officers and their families being attacked and their homes looted and set on fire.
Last week’s massacre comes in respose to a call in July by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar III, to Muslims in northern Nigeria to rise against Christianity. Kano’s state government has led the way in northern Nigeria for the implementation of sharia Islamic law.
Mark Lipdo, director of the Stefanos Foundation, which ministers to persecuted Christians in Nigeria, told Compass he’s shocked that the Nigerian government has done nothing to help the injured and displaced.
“It is surprising that an overwhelming thing like this that has displaced thousands of Christians is not known to the Nigerian government,” he said, noting that the government initially downplayed the mass rampage. “The government must act to check such unprovoked attacks against Christians.”
And Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church said, “We are living under persecution in Kano state, and yet, we are being told that we are under a democratic government. Do Muslims really want us to co-exist together as a nation? I doubt so.”
As WND reported in May, Christians in Nigeria, who make up about half the population, fears the imposition of Islamic law throughout that nation.
Indeed, as WND has reported, Muslim rioters in Nigeria in 2006 were incensed over cartoons of Muhammad published in Denmark, and more than 130 Christians in the Nigerian cities of Maiduguri and Onitsha were slaughtered.
The reports documented six children burned to ashes in front of their father, according to Voice of the Martyrs.
WND also has reported nearly 1,000 homes of Christians and many churches have been destroyed in these regions.
“If you go around villages, you will see people missing one hand or one foot,” explained Rev. Obiora Ike. “Do you think that’s the result of an illness? That is the result of sharia law.”
More than 10,000 Christians have been martyred in the region since the Islamic law was imposed in the region in 1999, and Voice of the Martyrs has helped surviving family members through its Families of Martyrs Fund with Care Packs, Village Outreach packs and words of encouragement to believers who stand for their faith “amidst volatile, uncertain conditions.”